Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blythe Dolls - Where Have I Been?

I used to think that I was really "cool" as I had owned a Barbie doll when they first came out in the early sixties. Mine had blond hair and a ponytail. And, I had owned one of the first Barbie's with the red short-bob haircut. Why, I was so cool I even had a Ken doll with a Barbie house and all.

Of course, my best friend had the Barbie car the year it came out. I didn't so I had to concede my "coolest" crown to her for awhile. We would sit and play "Barbie" in her room for hours upon hours upon hours. Those were wonderful times and memories I will always cherish.

I have to admit though - I am no longer "cool." "Fool" might be a better word. You see, if I still had the Barbie's they'd be worth a small fortune now. But, they were thrown out with the trash as I got older. A little insight back then might have been a good thing. Ya think!

I was obsessed with Barbie back then. I had to have everything relating to Barbie. Ask me what I wanted for Christmas and I'd say "Barbie." Birthday - "Barbie." Easter "Barbie." Buying a present for my Mom for Mother's Day - "Barbie." Buying a present for my Dad on Father's Day - "Barbie." I even tried to get my mother to give my older brother a "Ken" for his birthday. She wouldn't do it and he would have killed me. In any event, you get the idea - I loved Barbie.

Well, there has been an explosion going on during the last ten years or so amongst the doll hobbyists with a doll that I was unaware of until recently. I must have been asleep or comatose to have missed this.

She is BLYTHE and I am now in love with her. In fact, I think I could easily become obsessed with her. She is just so ADORABLE looking. With those huge eyes that change into 4 different colors. And, that HUGE head. It must account for half of her weight, alone!

I want her and I'm on the hunt for a BLYTHE of my own.

So, where can I find them? Well, according to Denise Van Patten, Your Guide to Doll Collecting.

The original Blythe dolls from 1972 were 11.5" or 12" tall. Some "miniature" modern Blythe dolls under 6" have also been produced since 2000 by Takara.

Companies That Have Produced Blythe Dolls: Kenner was the original company that produced Blythe. Unfortunately for Kenner, the doll was ahead of her time and only lasted on the market for one year--1972. With vintage Blythe's renewed popularity with collectors in the last few years, several companies including Hasbro, Takara and Ashton Drake have reproduced Blythe.

Years of Production of Blythe Dolls: The original vintage Blythe dolls were only produced in 1972. Modern reproductions have been made by Hasbro, Takara since 2001 and by Ashton Drake since 2004.

Of course if I want an original BLYTHE doll I'd better start saving. Originals can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars on eBay. YIKES!!! I'd better be really, really good to hubby this year. Maybe he'll buy me one for Christmas. Hmm.....But, which one would I want? They're all just so ADORABLE. I just have to have her. Am I obsessed? You decide.

Well, I can't be the only person obsessed with her. If I was there wouldn't be such a HUGE market for her. So, I not alone in my obsession. So, what is it about this doll that has everyone wanting her?

Original BLYTHE dolls were about 12" tall. The miniature are about 6" tall. All the dolls have HUGE plastic heads with vinyl torsos, arms, and legs. The dolls are bendable at the knee (like bendable Barbie) and can twist at the waist.

The dolls eyes are ENORMOUS - which I think is most of her appeal. If you pull the string attached to the back of her head the eyes close and then open again with a different color and different position. BLYTHE has 4 different eye colors and positions. So each time you pull the string she looks in a different position.

Given that I just love history and research I just had to find out more about BLYTHE!

Well, here's her history according to - The FREE Encyclopedia:

Blythe (pronounced "blithe" or like the 'bli' sound in "blind") is a doll created in 1972 by designer Allison Katzman with the now-defunct American toy company Kenner. Reportedly, she was modeled after drawings by Margaret Keane, similarly to many other dolls of the '60s and '70s. Her most unique and notable feature were blinkable eyes that changed color with the pull of a string attached to the back of her head. Blythe dolls were only sold for one year in the U.S. (produced in Hong Kong), during 1972. She was not very popular and faded from store shelves quickly.

Petite Blythe dolls are four inches tall and an economical and aesthetic alternative to Neo Blythes .

Thirty years after her first release date, Blythe regained popularity. In 1997, New York TV and video producer Gina Garan was given a 1972 Kenner Blythe by a friend and began using it to practice her photographic skills. She began taking her Blythe everywhere with her and took hundreds of photos. Then, in 1999, a chance encounter with CWC's Junko Wong brought Blythe to the attention of Parco and toy executives. In 2002, Gina published her first book of Blythe photography with Chronicle Books, This is Blythe.

Later that year, Hasbro (Kenner's successor) gave the rights to make Blythe dolls to Takara of Japan. Blythe was used in a television advertising campaign by the Parco department store in Japan and was an instant hit. Success in Japan led Blythe back to the U.S., where she become a niche product in a marginal market, selling largely to adults. In 2003 she was the subject in a segment on the popular VH1 special, I Love the 70s, where she was said to look like either "Barbie with elephantiasis" or "Christina Ricci" among other things. One panelist asked if she could take a doll home! In 2004, the Ashton-Drake Galleries began to produce their own Blythe replica dolls in the United States.

A vibrant Blythe subculture flourishes on the Internet, predominantly in forums and usergroups. There is a market network of hobbyist Blythe clothiers, designers, and customizers.

There are two types of Blythe dolls: the 28 cm version and the 11.2 cm "Petit Blythe." Only large dolls have color-changing eyes, which include the colors blue, green, orange, and pink (except for cases with limited-edition dolls). Newer releases of the Petit Blythe dolls have moveable eyelids and bendable bodies. A smaller Kubrick version of Blythe also exists. The measurements of Blythe: 4.17-2.76-3.89 (in inch) or 106-70-99 (in mm). The measurements of Petit Blythe: 1.77-1.18-16.5 (in inch) or 45-30-42 (in mm).

Unlike Barbie, Blythe does not have a boyfriend. She also does not advertise her professional life. Kenner is now owned by Hasbro.

So, according to - unlike Barbie - BLYTHE doesn't have a boyfriend. That's okay. As far as I'm concerned she doesn't need one. I love her just the way she is - minus boyfriend and all. And, I want one.

Will I become obsessed?

Probably. She is a doll after all and dolls are one of my many obsessions. I guess if I want one for Christmas I'd better start hunting for her now. If I can't find her at least I can read about her. I know I'll be buying the two books about her.

Wish me luck. I'm on the hunt for "BLYTHE."


  1. Love your article a child I was not a Barbie fan instead my doll of choice was Ginny by the Vogue Doll Company I got my first one when having my tonsils taken out at the age of 4 and from there the collection began to two more Ginnies, Ginette ( her baby sister) Jill ( her teenage sister) and Jan ( Jill's friends. Many of hours were spenting pouring over the catalogue for clothes and accessories. But unlike you I still have them today and still enjoy seeing their fat little cheeks.

  2. Debbie, I'm glad you liked the article. You are very fortunate to still have your Ginny's. It must be a wonderful collection.


  3. I purchased a Blythe a couple of years ago. I had a person that does customizations give her a "face-up" with some freckles. I haven't had much time to play with her lately but there are a ton of photos on flickr. Blythes have been customized into everything from clowns to vampires.